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Robert Burns and Burns Night celebrations 2016

by December 9, 2015 3 Comments

Celebrated annually on Robert Burns’ birthday, 25 January, Burns Night gathers Scots around the world to pay tribute to the great poet’s life and works, and to Scottish culture.

Marking the culmination of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, the event is marked by a jam-packed programme of celebrations across the country. There will be haggis eating, ceilidh dancing, songs and poetry and more, but most importantly – good company and loads of fun.

But first things first – find out more about Robert Burns, discover this year’s festivities that surround the event, a few extra tidbits of information on Burns and what on earth haggis, neeps and tatties are.

Auld Lang Syne by Robert BurnsWho was Robert Burns?

Born in 1759 to a farming family in the town of Alloway, Robert Burns aka Rabbie Burns has grown to become one of the country’s most iconic literary figures and Scotland’s most revered national poet.

He wrote his first poem aged 15, and by his mid-twenties had gained a reputation for his pioneering views on politics, religion and class-inequalities.

During his short 37-year-old lifetime, he penned many works including Auld Lang Syne, Tam O’Shanter and A Red, Red Rose to name just a few, and the legacy he left behind has had a profound effect on future generations around the world ever since, and continues to inspire and influence contemporary artists over 250 years after his birth.

Burns Supper in style

If there’s one night in the year to gather all of your nearest and dearest for a hearty feast with delectable haggis and drams along with rousing verses and ceilidh dancing until the wee hours, it must be Burns Night.

The ceremonies may range from small, informal gatherings to large-scale dining experiences full of pomp and entertainment, but all centre around the same key rituals and traditions.

We’ve outlined below the essential ingredients to throwing a successful Burns Supper so simply make sure you pull out all the stops below and you and your friends are in for a night to remember.

Read more on haggis myths and legends, What’s involved in Burns Supper?, or put your cooking skills to the test with the How to Hold Your Own Burns Supper eBook.

Burns Night events around the country

If you would rather join in an organised shindig on Burns Night, there are numerous events taking place throughout the country. Below are listed just a few events which are sure to be a great experience, but please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list. Let us know in the comments below where you will be celebrating Burns Night this year.

I’ve no doubt that Rabbie himself wouldn’t mind attending those gathering if he was around today so don’t delay and start planning your ultimate Burns Night evening now.

Hear the pipes calling? The countdown has begun…

Interesting facts about Robert Burns

While chit-chatting with your loved one over dinner, why not show off how cultural you are with a handful of unusual, random but very interesting facts about Burns?

Did you know that the Soviet Union was the first country in the world to honour Burns with a commemorative stamp, marking the 160th anniversary of his death in 1956? Or that the Chinese resistance fighters in the Second World War adapted a translation of Burns’ My Hearts in the Highlands as their marching song? There are even claims that Burns’ works played a key role in helping the American president Abraham Lincoln win the American civil war and abolish slavery (Lincoln was Burns’ huge fan and would frequently learn his works by heart).

Find out more interesting facts about Robert Burns on our 10 interesting facts about Robert Burns’ page.

In the footsteps of the Bard

Rabbie’s life as a poet and humanitarian was an inspiration for literary masters, rock legends and filmmakers around the world. But just who and what inspired Rabbie? Follow Burns itinerary or the Burns Heritage Trail to immerse yourself in his world and discover sites and locations around Scotland connected to him. Explore artefacts related to his life and works, learn about the love of his life, Jean Armour, or just simply wander around and observe the landscape that fired his imagination.

  • Visit Ayrshire & Arran, where he grew up, and visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum with Burns Cottage, his birthplace, and the elegant gardens created in his honour as well as the Bachelors’ Club where he founded a debating society, probably the first rural society of its kind in Scotland.
  • Walk the streets of Edinburgh where he published a second edition of his poems and visit the Writers’ Museum where you can see Burns’ portraits, rare books and personal objects including letters and his writing desk.
  • Dumfries & Galloway, the romantic setting of his later home region. Head to Burns House, where he spent the last years of his brilliant life, to see many relics of the poet, and don’t miss The Globe Inn, his former drinking hole, where his favourite seat still survives and some poetry inscribed by Burns with a diamond in a small upstairs bedroom in which he often slept can still be seen.

If you’re joining in Burns Night celebrations, no matter where in the world you are, why not share those brilliant moments by using #brilliantmoments on the social platform of your choice? Let’s spread our love to Burns together!

The Globe Inn - frequented by the poet Robert Burns, Dumfries

The Globe Inn – frequented by the poet Robert Burns, Dumfries

Additional Burns Resources

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Aldona Krzemien

Content Editor at VisitScotland
Originally from Poland, she's now based in Edinburgh and can't imagine life without four things: travels, photography, fishing for antiques and haggis!


  • Charly McArdle

    We are celebrating Burns Night 2014 in California! Below is a great article that helps non-Scots learn more about Rabbie Burns and the toast to the lassies!

    • Julie Harper जुली हार्पर

      We have three Burns Suppers coming up around Salt Lake City, Utah!

      • kimspangrude

        Where are they?

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